The event boasted record ticket sales for any Commonwealth Games hosted in the UK to-date and included a diverse program of sport. According to the government, the Games hosted the “biggest para sport program in the history of the Commonwealth Games”, and there were more women’s finals than men’s – the first time that has happened at any major sporting event. It was the first time that able bodied and para games have taken place at the same time.
Sustainability is a theme of growing importance to organisers of major events. Birmingham 2022 claimed to be the most sustainable Commonwealth Games ever hosted.
Initiatives included enabling spectators to travel to Games venues for free on public transport, using electric vehicles to transport officials around the city, and installing water stations to encourage the refilling of reusable bottles and cut down on plastic waste.
The way in which existing sports infrastructure in Birmingham was used and adapted was also an example of a sustainable model that other cities could adopt, according to Lowson. Only one new sports facility was purpose-built for the Games – the new aquatics center in Sandwell – though other facilities, such as the Alexander Stadium, were upgraded.
Lowson said: “Sports facilities can be expensive to build, maintain and operate, so it makes sense for cities to maximize the existing infrastructure at their disposal before committing funding to new projects, particularly where bespoke stadia for certain individual sports would be unlikely to be used to their capacity post-Games. Making use and adapting existing world class sports facilities, such as Edgbaston and the NEC, made sense for Birmingham, and there was also clear pragmatism in hosting track cycling in existing velodrome facilities in London. “
Hosting major sporting events can also be a catalyst for regeneration projects in cities. For Birmingham 2022, it was originally envisaged that a new ‘athletes village’ would be built in the Perry Barr area of the city, with those units then converted into affordable and social housing for the community. However, when that project ran into delays, organizers found other, sustainable, solutions for hosting the thousands of athletes from across the Commonwealth.
Francis said: “Strong partnerships were at the heart of the event’s success in Birmingham. One example of this were the arrangements put in place with universities across Birmingham to host athletes during the Games after it became clear that the regeneration project in Perry Barr would not be delivered in time. “
“While regeneration of Perry Barr promises to deliver major improvements in social housing in the area in the long-run, the model of using pre-existing student accommodation for housing athletes could be an attractive option for other cities to adopt,” she said.
Hosting major events should offer local businesses opportunities, Francis and Lowson said. They said host cities need to make it clear who businesses can approach to bid for contracts so they can tender for available work stemming from the event. Businesses are also a vital source of sponsorship income, so it is vital for cities and event organisers to engage with local businesses at an early stage to articulate the benefits they can derive from becoming official partners for the event, they said.
A prominent, multi-channel, marketing campaign is also needed to raise public awareness of the event and get them engaged with it, they said.
The 2022 Commonwealth Games was the centerpiece to a wider program of cultural activity in the city. Pinsent Masons was the legal service provider for The Birmingham 2022 Festival – the first time that a cultural festival has taken place in tandem with the Games. Francis and Lowson said the festival has helped to engage the local community and showcase the city to tourists over a period lasting well beyond the Games and could be successfully repeated in other host cities.
Lowson said: “Delivering successful major events is challenging. Best practices from the public sector perspective and in being more sustainable and joined up should be shared so that there’s a slicker delivery model for cities to turn to when they bid to host events and not have to start from scratch. “